Parenting Consultant Offers Advice On Child Rearing

by Glenda Moore, Parenting Consultant

Question: My child (who is four years old) has difficulty moving form one part of the day to another.  He continues playing when called to dinner and doesn’t want to put on his coat when it’s time to go outside.  Every change of the day seems to make him fall apart.  How can I help him and me to get through the day without so much drama?

All young children have difficulty with change.  They are immersed in the moment and in their own activity and often resist other-directed change.  In addition, at 3 and 4 years, they are often oppositionally defiant in their need to separate from the parent and find their own individuality.  For young children, creating a predictable rhythm to the day is very helpful in giving them a sense of security and helping them to feel that the world is safe.  This need not be a rigid hour-by-hour schedule but if the same order of similar events occurs each day, i.e. breakfast, getting dressed, playing while Mommy tidies the house, outside time for play or errands, lunch, rest, dinner, and bedtime – then the child will not resist change so much and will become accustomed to and peaceful about transitions.

If you already have a predictable rhythm to the day, and your child is still very resistant to change, then other causes may be involved.  Perhaps the child has auditory processing difficulties in that they can physically hear you speak but the brain needs more time to decode and understand the language.  Or the child may have attention difficulties in which they are so overwhelmed by the stimulation of the environment that they have difficulty prioritizing the visual, auditory or other stimuli coming toward them.  This is often termed Attention Deficit Disorder but is in reality an excess of attention in focusing on every detail around them and being unable to screen so that important information comes into the foreground and less important stimuli recedes.  The child is exhausted by the continuing struggle to sort the sensory overload in the environment and ‘falls apart’ in frustration.

A further conversation and observation of your child would be necessary to determine whether your child’s difficulty falls into the ‘normal’ range or would need further support in meeting the world.

Glenda Moore has been a parent educator and teacher for 30+ years.  She is available for individual parenting consulting and for parenting classes in small groups.  Please call 314-646-0626 for more information.